Blashford Mountain and a Perch Bitte(r)n

Bird News: Ibsley Watergrey plover 1, ruddy duck 1, goosander 85+, common gull c600, black-headed gull c4000.    Ivy Lakebittern 2.

Blashford was briefly transformed this morning following the overnight snow. It was still white when I arrived, but already thawing quite rapidly.

Centre car park in snow

Going round to open the hides I could see the night’s activities recorded in the footprints, fox tracks along nearly every path with rabbits along the edge of the Lichen Heath. Early morning wanderings by grey squirrel and pheasant were also there to see, but it was evident that the badgers had stayed indoors, not a single track even right beside the sett.

Snowy path by the badger sett

It was actually noticeably warmer today and the snow disappeared almost totally by lunchtime. Of course it always stays for longer at higher altitudes and on north facing slope, although Blashford is not well-known for mountainous scenery this effect was still illustrated on the hills we do have.

a mountain out of a molehill

We could be into spring in just a couple of weeks and one of the first birds to take up nesting territories is lapwing, the area to the west of the Tern hide is a favourite one but a number of small willows have grown up there so we decided to remove them this afternoon, a small task bu tone that should bring results as the nesting lapwing should now have the wide views they like to spot potential predators.

before, in the sunshine

and after under cloudy skies

All I have to do now is mow off the grass and dead annual growth from last year.

When we got back to the Centre everyone was saying how obliging the bittern was being so we went down to take a look, I could say this wa sa last day treat for the student from Sparsholt who has been doing her three-week placement with us, and I’m sure it was, equally a bittern in the sunshine is hard to resist.

bittern on the move

After briefly being out in the open it reverted to type and started to stalk through the reeds. It started fishing using the typical pose, head-down with the bill tip just breaking the surface.

bittern fishing

It was very quickly successful, catching a good-sized perch.

bittern with perch

No sooner had it swallowed this catch down, than it set off fishing again, clearly hungry after a few lean, icy days.


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